Yemeni lumberjack Ali Al Emmady spends hours cutting down acacia trees with an ax as he helps his 12-year-old nephew break logs.
In a war-torn country, Emmady had to look to logging in his northern Almarwheat region to earn a living. The economic collapse wiped out the farming and construction work he was traveling all over the country.
However, with the surge in demand for firewood due to fuel shortages, the humanitarian crisis in a country where millions are facing hunger exacerbates the risk of deforestation, Yemen’s environment and long-term livelihood hopes for men. There are concerns that it threatens both. Like Emmady.
“Bakery owners use wood and stone to heat their ovens. They used to use gas, but now they only have wood,” says Emmady.
“If we have enough wood available, we make a living. Thank God, but today we are short of wood,” says the seven fathers. “If I get something, we eat. At least we live or die together.”
More than six years of war between the Saudi-led coalition-backed official government and the Houthi movement in collaboration with Iran have killed tens of thousands of people and made 80 percent of Yemen’s population dependent on aid.
Fuel shortages due to the blockade of coalitions in the Houthi-owned areas, including restrictions on access to major ports in Hudaydah, have led companies and families to exchange diesel and gas for firewood. The alliance states that a blockade is needed to prevent the smuggling of weapons.
About 886,000 trees are logged each year to feed bakeries and restaurants in the capital Sana’a alone, and Abdullah, head of the Yemeni Environmental Protection Agency’s Biodiversity and Nature Reserve, run by the Houthi authorities.・ Able Houthi says. Northern Yemen.
Over the last three years, he says, about 5 million trees have been logged across the north.
“This is equivalent to 213 square kilometers (82 square miles) of forest, as we know that only 3.3% of Yemen’s total area is classified as forest,” says Abul-Futuh.
Authorities were unable to provide comparative figures as this is a recent phenomenon.
After the discovery of gas in the Malibu region in the 1980s, timber logging was limited to remote areas, but the war squeezed Yemen’s energy output, initially relying on imported goods and now building houses. Was forced to rely on wood from the wood normally used for.
Yemen has few forests, but the desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula, which produce oil, have a relatively rich variety of plants. Known for its thick canopy, several types of acacia, sugi, and spruce have disappeared in Almerwheat.
Sawmills with the means buy acacia trees from landowners for about $ 100 (£ 73) and sell the logs to traders who send them to the city.
A 5-ton truck loaded with logs is worth $ 300 to $ 700 in Sana’a, depending on the timber and distance traveled.
“Demand depends on the number of fuel vessels arriving at the port of Hudaydah. These days (demand) is very high,” said Slyman, a logger who makes a living by selling firewood to visiting traders.・ Jublains says.
“I’m afraid the country will turn into a desert. It’s already happening … I can’t see the trees that once covered the mountains,” he says.
Forests are primarily privately owned, and poor families have traditionally been allowed to cut trees for free, unless they are willing to cut branches and regenerate their trunks.
“Now we’re uprooting them with a pickaxe. There’s nothing left,” says Emmady.
Reuters. photography By Khaled Abdullah